Celebrating the Centennial of Airmail at the Postal Museum

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Carrying three letters, groceries, and copies of the local newspaper, Fred Wiseman piloted a plane between Petaluma to Santa Rosa, California, possibly the first airmail flight! He took off on February 17, 1911, but made a forced landing due to engine trouble. He completed the flight the next day.

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum celebrated his flight with a family festival on Saturday, February 19, 2011. Enjoy photos and anecdotes from the day!

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Celebrating the Centennial of Airmail at the Postal Museum

  1. 1. Carrying three letters, groceries, and copies of the local newspaper, Fred Wiseman piloted a plane between Petaluma to Santa Rosa, California, possibly the first airmail flight! He took off on February 17, 1911, but made a forced landing due to engine trouble. He completed the flight the next day. <br />
  2. 2. On Saturday, February 19, the Postal Museum celebrated the centennial of airmail beneath the Wiseman-Cooke airplane with a family festival.<br />
  3. 3. When Fred Wiseman flew over a farm on his airmail flight, a woman in a field below waved her dishtowel at him. He threw her a copy of the Press-Democrat newspaper, making her the first recipient of airmail! Visitors decorated dishtowels with encouraging messages and then waved them at Fred’s plane!<br />
  4. 4. Visitors enjoyed waving their dishtowels with a re-enactor and imagining what it must have been like to see the flight in action.<br />
  5. 5. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of airmail, visitors envisioned airmail in the year 2111, building prototypes of their ideas.<br />
  6. 6. Futuristic airmail plane prototypes created by visitors. Kids explained how their planes were fast, safe, reliable, green, and able to carry lots of mail.<br />
  7. 7. An airmail plane designer shows off her prototype.<br />
  8. 8. Visitors created postcards to commemorate the centennial of airmail. <br />
  9. 9. Even Smithsonian curators debate which of many early flights was “the first airmail flight.” Instead of debating which flight was first, visitors voted which of four flights was “awesomest.”<br />
  10. 10. Which flight won the visitors’ popular vote? An 1859 flight in an airmail balloon beat the Wiseman-Cooke flight by only a few votes. Above: a photograph of the flight and a piece of mail carried on it.<br />
  11. 11. A fun scavenger hunt helped visitors track which activities they tried and win a cool prize.<br />A volunteer regaled visitors with stories and videos of early airmail flights.<br />
  12. 12. Learn more about the Wiseman-Cooke flight and other early airmail flights at www.postalmuseum.si.edu<br />

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